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Going back to college as an adult?

Date: 12/28/2011

All college information sessions are not created equal—especially if you’re an adult learner pursuing an advanced degree or charting a new career direction. “The more information you have going in,” says Susan Haldeman, Alvernia University’s admissions director for the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies, “The more information you’ll have about a school coming out.”

What’s the right answer? Ask the right questions, counsels Haldeman. Here are some questions every prospective adult learner should be asking, whether it’s at a general overview or an in-depth, program-specific information night:

1. Does your graduate or continuing studies program have a clear learning outcome (i.e., secure a new position, transition into a new field or keep technical skills current)?
2. Who teaches the courses? Do professors provide an in-depth learning experience? Do they emphasize practical knowledge and skills using a real world-based approach?

3. Does the school offer courses that will accommodate a working person’s busy schedule? Do you offer online courses as well as classroom?
4. How long will it take to complete a degree?
5. Are academic advisors and services specifically for adult learners integral to the program? Can they help me custom-tailor a degree to my unique personal needs?
6. What kind of transfer credits do you accept? Will you evaluate transfer credits without obligation?
7. Do you need prior college credits to enroll?
8. How much will my degree cost? How can I finance my education? Is financial aid and counseling available?
9. What kind of support services do you offer enrolled students? Do I receive the same benefits and services as an undergraduate student? Is the campus environment safe? Is there ample parking? Is the campus conveniently reachable via mass transit?
10. How do I apply? When is payment due? Is tuition deferment available?

“The saying that you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression is equally true for college information sessions,” notes Haldeman. “What you see at an information night is indicative of what you’re going to experience as a student. Ask lots of questions and get solid answers. It will make your school selection much easier.”

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.